A Mom's take on "Operation Varsity Blues"

Sadly, when this “Operation Varsity Blues” story first broke into the headlines, I was totally flabbergasted. Being a Mom to three children, all college graduates, I just cannot understand the gall of these people with money, status, and opportunities galore. I cannot understand their need to go around the legitimate college admissions system and use their aforementioned position in society to buy their child’s education. After all, aren’t these people already a part of the upper one-percenters, so why on earth would they even need to think about purchasing the same for their children? Do they not have a conscience, and better yet, does their child?

As I said to Haley, this is yet another slap in the face of the common man.

“We all want what is best for our children and we know that the competition in life is tough, if not brutal.”

Then I began to look at it from another angle. I suppose it could simply be that they are human and no different from any other parent? We all want what is best for our children and we know that the competition in life is tough, if not brutal. That’s why we enroll our kids in extra-curricular activities when they are barely old enough to walk; soccer, music lessons, art, and dance. We do our best to immerse our children in things that we either wish we could have done when growing up or that we did do ourselves as youngsters. Of course, some families have it easier than others but most do the best that they can with what they have. They support their children emotionally, spiritually, and when possible, financially. It’s love; most call it parenting. Not always easy, and sometimes we go overboard, but at least we do try.

Then, I suppose for some, greed rears its ugly head; the need for acceptance or notoriety, or perhaps the simple fear of failure? Take a look at social media, the nightly news, any YouTube channel or magazine in the grocery store check-out lane. It’s either one way or the other; you’re perfect or not, and if you happen to fall into the latter category, your name and picture will be immortalized far longer than if it were the former. No wonder people succumb to the get-rich schemes or this amazingly perfect (although entirely criminal) way to get their child into a top college. And again, what about their student and what has he or she learned from this whole experience if anything?

“What about their student and what has he or she learned from this whole experience if anything?”

Personally, the thing that really hit me as a Mom, was knowing how hard my children worked to get accepted and graduate, of their own volition, from top universities in this country. Granted, they had the opportunity to go to one of the top public high schools in the nation, but they worked their tail-ends off too. The peer pressure was insane. Nothing was handed to them other than the awards that they, themselves earned. To say that their father and I are proud of them would be a gross understatement. I could also go on and state that they all worked jobs throughout high school and had to share a family car, but that really isn’t the point I’m trying to make. Yes, they definitely had it easier than others but harder than some.

One big thing that they also achieved on their own, was the responsibility for their own actions. They weren’t always happy about it, but they did see that their own hard work paid off when done in the correct manner. Legitimately and honorably. The Rush song lyrics, “you can’t get something from nothing” are basically the lyrics of life and if you look around, they prove themselves day in and day out.

“Of course, it’s maddening, but please don’t let it color your tenure in school so that your own hard work is tainted. Don’t let someone else’s poor choices affect your ability to succeed and grow.”

To this end, I say openly to the students and parents that are so worried about “those students in my classes that shouldn’t be”, or “I don’t have the same opportunities that those celebs had” ; I say to you, of course, it’s maddening, but please don’t let it color your tenure in school so that your own hard work is tainted. Will you let someone else’s poor choices affect your ability to succeed and grow? This entire scenario is a sad fact of our everyday society and you’ll find this in every facet of your life, and everywhere in the world. Yet, it is completely in each individual’s control to take charge of his or her own life’s trajectory. Some people will never know or understand that amazing feeling; don’t be one of them.

“The Varsity Blues scandal brings to light the blaring fact that our education system does in fact need reform, from primary school on up.”

Lastly, I do totally believe that we need several major education reforms in our country.

First, our elementary and secondary education systems desperately need to change in order to make sure that every child, wherever they live without regard to their family income or status, has the same education through high-school. All students must be able to pass the same graduating benchmarks, whether they will go to a traditional college or university after graduation or not. No student will be able to successfully find work or further their education without these fundamental abilities.

Check out this terrific article and interview of Ted Dintersmith, What School Could Be, by Emily Kaplan of Edutopia

Secondly, public colleges, tech schools, community colleges, and public universities are yet another ballgame. All students should be able to make their own choice of whether or not to further their post-secondary education. I am a staunch proponent of a “free of charge” opportunity for students to pursue a vocation or a college degree. While it may not totally remove the societal issues that we have today, and granted, college isn’t for everyone, but financial means shouldn’t be the determining factor for that choice.

We need education reform, not only for our children now but for our future. No child or parent should feel the pressure of not being able to provide for their family because of the lack of education or work opportunities. Certainly, society will always have the perceived “haves and have nots” but it doesn’ need to fall entirely on the basis of what school you attended, your academic major or who can be found in your family tree.

“Operation Varsity Blues” must be taken as a wake-up call to those that are sincerely not aware, and a hard slap in the face, and criminal charges, to those that do.

Our country was born out of hard work and I believe that we need to get back to the basics. It does take a village of hard workers; those that have the determination along with those that have the necessary abilities will together make for a better society. The playing field won’t always level, and those that don’t play by the rules should definitely be held accountable, but that doesn’t mean that the end goal cannot be achieved.

If that’s looking through rose-colored glasses, then that’s just me. Someone has to do it, and I will as a proud Mom.

Mom/Laurie